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A net zero carbon budget for the whole transport sector

Analysis shows Department for Transport plans will cause UK to breach carbon budgets; radical new plan needed to cut aviation and road transport carbon by 2030


The Department for Transport (DfT) has gone rogue on climate change. Transport is the only sector where greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 1990. A new analysis shows that the DfT’s continued failure to curb emissions will lead to the UK breaching existing carbon budgets over the next decade, even before budgets are tightened on the pathway to net zero. Radical action to cut emissions from road transport and aviation over the next decade and beyond are needed. This will require DfT to constrain demand for road and air travel.


This is an Annex to a series of papers commissioned by Friends of the Earth on the transport policies that are needed to cut carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. The series focusses on emissions from cars in urban areas as this is where significant and rapid carbon savings can be made while improving the quality of life for the 80% of people living in towns and cities. The first paper showed that we will need to reduce demand for car travel significantly, in addition to a rapid transition to electric vehicles, if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

However as well as road transport we need to reduce carbon from all other transport sources, including international aviation and shipping (IAS). In the fifth paper in this series we highlighted the problem that there is no overarching assessment of carbon reduction showing how all transport carbon emissions will be cut, including IAS, in order to meet current climate targets, let alone Paris-aligned ones. This Annex discusses why a single carbon budget and reduction pathway is needed for the whole transport sector, now in the context of the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) new net zero report. The briefing looks at the growing gap between domestic transport emissions and current targets, the particular problem of aviation emissions, estimates the gap for total transport and policy measures needed, and presents our conclusions and recommendations.

Read the full report.

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